New Delhi: India has set up a special committee of officials to expedite Japanese investment in India, separately from the Japan Plus team of officials from both sides constituted last month to research, outreach, promote and facilitate Japanese businesses wanting to set up base in Asia’s third largest economy.
In response to Japanese concerns about infrastructure bottlenecks in India, Shatrughan Singh, additional secretary in the department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP), also said the government was fast-tracking the development of industrial corridors besides setting up a new national industrial corridor development authority for the purpose.
Singh was addressing a meeting of the India-Japan Business Cooperation Committee organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry in New Delhi on Monday.
This is the first such meeting of Indian and Japanese businesses after the September visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Japan during which he had called on Japanese businesses to set up shop in India and turn the country into a manufacturing hub.
India-Japan trade in 2013-14 was $16.31 billion and Japanese companies made an investment of $15.35 billion in India between April 2000 and December 2013.
In his speech, Masami Ijima, chairman of the Japan-India Business Cooperation Committee and chief executive officer and president of Mitsui and Co. Ltd, welcomed the setting up of Japan Plus comprising representatives from the government of India and Japan’s ministry of economy, trade and industry. Japan Plus was constituted after Modi’s visit to Japan and its mandate spans the entire spectrum of investment promotion—research, outreach, promotion, facilitation and dealing with any kind of challenges post investments.
But infrastructure and the requirement of multiple clearances from the Union and state governments dampened investment plans, Ijima said, speaking through a translator. “Then there are issues related to intellectual property rights," Ijima said, calling on both sides to address this issue.
In his remarks, Japan’s ambassador to India Takeshi Yagi welcomed recent reform measures initiated by the Modi government to spur investments into India. He also lauded the setting up of the Japan Plus team—a move that was also welcomed by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe when he met Modi for dinner on the sidelines of the just-concluded Group of Twenty summit in Brisbane.
Yagi, however, pointed out that India had to put in place more measures to “improve the ease of doing business", including simplifying taxation procedures and making available land for various projects, besides improving infrastructure facilities. According to the 2014 World Bank rankings, India was placed at 142 among 189 countries in the ease of doing business.
In his comments, DIPP’s Singh said the Modi government was taking steps to improve infrastructure and one of the steps in this direction was the constitution of the “new national industrial corridor development authority" to “carry out project development activities, appraise and sanction projects as well as coordinate all central efforts for industrial corridor development". An announcement to this effect was made by finance minister Arun Jaitely while presenting his first budget in July.
Outlining the reform measures taken by the Modi government after being sworn into office on 26 May, Singh urged Japanese businesses to help develop its manufacturing sector to create jobs for India’s youth. He said India’s foreign investment regime had been made “investor-friendly" with no caps on investment in construction, operation and maintenance in railway infrastructure projects and easing foreign direct investment (FDI) rules in India’s construction sector.
“The government has also constituted a core group chaired by the cabinet secretary" for India-Japan investment promotion, Singh said, adding that the group comprises the chairman of the Railway Board, the foreign secretary, secretaries in the ministries of commerce and information technology, besides others, to coordinate and monitor the processes for the facilitation of Japanese investments and transfer of technology in various sectors. He did not, however, specify when the group was set up.